Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sa Re Ga Ma Pa: different, but is it better?

Zee TV’s Sa Re Ga Ma Pa 2007 Challenge is an interesting exercise in differentiation. In particular, Sony Entertainment’s Indian Idol torments it – it’s a proven, global format, it’s flashier and it has a very strong brand. So the challenge for SRGMP really starts with beating Idol.

And you can see their very visible strategy in action in every episode.

SRGMP’s differentiation seems to revolve around core Indian sensibilities. Where Indian Idol focuses on presentation, SRGMP constantly tries to put the focus on music. It also counters Indian Idol’s jazzier format with a distinctly Indian structure – four gharanas competing with each other. And there’s more: trumpets, conch shells, a shower of flower petals, some very colorful sets. It certainly gives the show a distinct look that allows it to stand apart from Indian Idol.

There are several things I enjoyed in the few episodes I’ve seen so far.

First, Bappi Lahiri cracks me up constantly. And in a good way. I was never a huge fan of his voice but I loved the fact that he challenged the legacy of Kishore in no uncertain terms by singing his own tunes. And he did it while weighed down by a ton of jewelry. Look closely and you can see his legacy in present day Bluffmaster-fashions and the self-propelled singing career of Himesh Reshammiya.

Second, there are some nice roller coaster rides to be had between the mentors of each gharana and the judges. The mentors (Ismail Darbar , Himesh Reshammiya, Bappi Lahiri and Vishal-Shekhar ) come across as poor people managers – often railing on their contestants and creating an aura of gloom over the very talent they groom.

And then Asha Bhonsle takes over as a judge – and she keeps it real. She gently dispenses advice to the contestants that is usually accompanied by a brilliant technical breakdown of the song. And that puts the show back on an even keel. Sometimes she forgets that she’s talking to a bunch of greenhorns. At one point she delivers a nugget to a hopeful “Andar se dance karo” she tells her. Well, Ashaji that’s easy for someone like you to say – but it’s still great advice.

Third, the host Aditya Narayan is all round likeable and hugely personable. I kind of enjoy the way he gels and makes his hair stand up – making his bobbing head look really big and his hands incredibly small. In fact, I think I shall call him “Head” with much fondness.

Now, will this spectacle work? Initial viewings suggest it still might not connect with audiences – especially younger ones – the way Indian Idol might. But the immediacy of reality TV dictates that anything can happen and verdicts must be withheld till the very end.


Anonymous said...

Main problem I think is they over did the whole thing. 3 Sa Re Ga Ma in one year is too much..


Anonymous said...

Indian Idol is a competition, SRGMP is a festival! The former focuses on the idividual, the latter on the team of characters. One is sequential, the other is interactive. They are entirely different experiences and foster different types of engagement from the viewer.

Anonymous said...

The 4 judges- Himesh, Ismail, Bhappi & the Vishal-Sekhar combination talk like a bunch of idiots to me. Are these really musicians?

All of them need to attend a 'training' class by the legendary Ashaji. I have carefully listened to every sentence of hers- the way she interprets the singing & her advise to these young kids & have been very, very touched & impressed. Ashaji, please do something about these arrogant SOBs-especially Himesh & Ismail!

On the whole, it is quite extraordinary that India has so much talent hidden in the interior. Lets pray that programs such as these bring them out into the open.

Unknown said...

From the looks of it - Ashaji has been holding her own against the judges and isn't afraid to remind them who is the in the driver's seat.

Anonymous said...


I am crazy about the sa re ga ma programme so much that i can not watch any other programe at the time when you telecast the sa re ga ma pa and i watch this programe on friday, saturday and sunday in the morning.

I like to present my gratitude to the maker of this program as this is the best platform for the new telent to show their telent and get recognised. All the judges and gurus in this program are encouraging the participants and it now depends on the participants to take their comments and feedback seriously and mainly for the improvement prospective.

I have also become a big fan of Mauli Dave and i can gurantee that she is far better singer then Sunidhi Chauhan. The other singers harpreet, sikander from pakistan are also very very sweet and have very good voice.

I also want to thank all the people who contributed to make this program possible and a big success.

Lavesh Chopra from Delhi.

Unknown said...

Lavesh, your devotion to SRGMP is touching. And I think its a program that can be enjoyed at many levels. I'm with you on Mauli Dave.